This is the newest Smithsonian Institution museum in DC and, like the rest of them, it’s an excellent museum. The first exhibit hall covers African cities and customs, European cities and customs, and the beginning of the slave trade. The exhibits lead visitors through time with displays and videos covering slavery, emancipation, segregation, fights for equal rights, and current issues. Stories of individuals – slaves, freedom fighters, soldiers, inventors, musicians, artists, sports stars, and ordinary people – are included. We spent about 4 hours in the museum and didn’t make it through all of the exhibits.
The museum is very popular. Admission is free but tickets should be reserved in advance, either online on the first Wednesday of the month or online on the day you want to visit. Be prepared to be online as soon as the tickets become available at 6:30 AM.
The layout is a little confusing. From the entry level take the elevator down one floor where you will be directed to another elevator which goes down three floors to the beginning of the exhibits. These three floors have long ramps between the levels but no elevators. Following the ramps through the exhibits will take you back to the second elevator which will take you to the entry level and the three upper levels. The hallway in the beginning of the exhibits is narrow and can be very crowded.
We parked on Constitution Ave. fairly close to the museum. DC has recently implemented fee parking along all of the streets where parking was previously free. On most streets the fee is $2.00 an hour payable by credit card or phone app. The spaces are not marked with lines so RVs fees are the same as car fees. The maximum time is 3 hours, the same as it was previously. In the past this was not enforced but now it’s necessary to pay attention to the time which puts a crimp in long walks or long museum visits. A benefit of the parking fees is that spaces are easy to find. Spaces that would have filled by 9:30 in the morning are still available at 12:00. Museum 38.89105, -77.0327